Club Newsletter 4th June

Date: 07 June 2020
Valedictory Notes from the Editor

This is the 3rd and final attempt by the interim editor before handing over to the more competent and qualified Hoppers Marketing Team.

This edition contains:
  •  A history of one of our more recent “semi attached” clubs ~ Typhoons RUFC ~ who while they are constitutionally independent of the Hoppers have made a welcome contribution to the atmosphere and revenue of the Club. Lawrence Howard, the driving force behind the Typhoons has just been elected onto the Leagues Committee of the International Gay Rugby Board and is standing for a post on the World Board.
  • A note from Graham Cox the Club Secretary setting out the position as regards this year’s AGM.
  • The regular update from Andy in his role as Chairman
  • A final report on the Ladies magnificent achievement in raising funds for the NHS and smashing their target for “Miles in May”.
If during my brief sojourn as editor you have been, thanks for reading.

The Typhoons RUFC

Back in 1995, five men met in the bar at Kings Cross Train Station to talk about their experiences of being gay men in rugby, and at the end of this talk, the foundations were set for the Kings Cross Steelers, the first of what was then called a gay rugby club.  They were soon joined by two more clubs, and a movement was born.  The nineties were a different time, and those early clubs can all tell stories of how homophobia caused problems, and other clubs made it difficult for them.  A coach being removed from his previous club, refusals to rent equipment due to a fear of AIDS, and constant changes of training and playing venues.  But, those pioneers persisted.  In 2001, tragedy struck this embryonic movement, and in the September 11th Attacks, Mark Bingham, a player for San Francisco Fog died trying to retake Fight 93, and a small memorial tournament with the then 8 teams all attending took place the following year. 
Fast forward to 2016, and there are close to 50 clubs in existence.  The 8th Mark Bingham Memorial Cup (referred to now as “Bingham”) took place in Nashville, in searing heat and with Mark’s mother, Alice Hoagland, still watching every game.  Some clubs still call themselves “Gay Clubs”, but the term “inclusive rugby”is becoming more popular, recognising that the clubs represent a different way of doing things, and providing a rugby home for people who might not feel comfortable in traditional clubs.  The Melbourne Chargers won that year.  However, this is where I enter the picture.  I was at Bingham.  I was between clubs at the time, playing as a pool player with a short sided club, and planning to hang up my boots after the tournament.  A conversation took place about the bid cycle for the 2018 tournament, and I say “maybe we will have a central Lancashire club by then.  We could host it in Blackpool.  Have the opening ceremony on the North Pier, and the closing ceremony in the tower ballroom.  We could call the team The Preston Pugs”  and the idea was swiftly forgotten. This was 2016, however, and money was being poured into Rugby development, and new Inclusive teams springing up across the UK.  Leeds Hunters, Swansea Vikings, Wessex Wyverns, Berkshire Unicorns (taking the name we all wish we had come up with!), and, with me on the club committee, The Liverpool Tritons. 
The received wisdom at the time was still that clubs could only work in large cities, and even if the idea of a Preston or Blackpool club came up, the advice would always be “it could never work”  Summer 2017 came along, and after Madrid Union Cup (when I came up with the idea with the chairman of The Newcastle Ravens for the Inclusive Clubs to have their own league structure), the idea came up to challenge the view that clubs couldn’t exist outside of large cities and found an Inclusive Club based out of Preston. October came along, and I found myself sat in the bar at ‘hoppers throwing around ideas for a name (and agreeing to play for ‘hoppers 5th team the next day!) and many suggestions came up – Brigands and Warlocks and Guildsmen (oh my!), and thankfully pugs was rejected!  None felt right, but then a test flight for BAe went overhead, and the suggestion of “Typhoons” came up
Jump forwards to our very first training session, January 19th 2018.  68 people had said their were coming, and 5 turned up.  It was cold, hailstones and damp.  But we had fun.  Next came April 14th and we played our first game, in gifted shirts and with only 13 of our own players (after I fell on my way to the game and busted my ankle!) and our numbers bolstered by some Liverpool Tritons.  November that year, the decision was made to start an “all year round” touch team, and we grew further.  The 2019/20 season saw us competing in the IGR (International Gay Rugby) North League, finishing firmly in the middle of the table in 4th place, and with some fantastic memories, and some incredible stories to tell.  The Foreshortened season kept us from hosting the League finals and cup games on 25th April, and has cut the core of our Touch Team’s season, but this hasn’t stopped us planning for the future.  The 20/21 season will soon be with us, with new IGR teams to play as more and more clubs are founded.  Of course, we couldn’t do any of this without the fantastic support from all of the people at Preston Grasshoppers, and we look forward to being back with you as soon as possible. 

Lawrence Howard

Lawrence in action down at the Hoppers


Club Annual General Meeting

The AGM is held on the last Thursday in July in the clubhouse, which this year will be 30th July. Current government advice is that we cannot have gatherings of people from outside the same household in an indoor environment. Whether that advice will change or not in the coming weeks is unclear and we therefore need to make arrangements for the AGM to be held in a way that reflects the “new normal”. At present that is likely to mean that we undertake a virtual meeting, with interested members attending via a screen from the comfort of their own homes.

This is clearly new ground for the Club but we are taking advice from the RFU who are themselves holding a virtual AGM in the next few weeks. We will keep everyone advised on the detail as it is developed, but it is likely to mean that we will publish documents and reports prior to the meeting for members to read and arrange for any questions that members may have to be submitted prior to the meeting. Voting will be a challenge but we are looking at systems that we can use.

I recognise that this form of AGM may not be to everyone’s satisfaction, but the current circumstances leave us with no options. I would welcome any comments that members may have on these proposals at this early stage so that we can try and reflect the wishes of members in organising the meeting. Please send comments to

Graham Cox

Honorary Secretary

Chairman’s Comments

Development work at the Club continues with the new offices being painted and some work being carried out our electrical, Wi-fi, CCTV and fire systems. Work in the next week or so will focus on the new door from the Dooley Suite to the patio area by the AGP, new flooring in the Dooley Suite and new store area.

We are making plans for the safe opening of the Club on 4th July (dependent upon Government advice) providing food and drink. I am sure that many of us will look forward to this and the opportunity to get some good snacks/food and quality drinks in a safe and pleasant environment using our great outside space. Richard Ellis is doing a tremendous job leading this Project and I will make sure we let you all know our plans as soon as they are confirmed.

I have said many times that the Club is indebted to the many volunteers who support the Club in very many ways. It is great that a number of people have come forward in the past few weeks to help out the Club – some of these (such as Richard Ellis) have already started helping us. We shall be in touch with all potential volunteers to agree how they can help us out. If you want to help out our Club, please let us know!

Congratulations and a big “well done” to the Ladies Section for their charity fundraising – thanks to everyone who participated in the Miles of May exercise and all those who supported it.

We have just received guidance from the RFU “Return to Rugby Activity” (Road Map – Version 1). We are considering now how we can follow the guidance and start getting rugby players (at all levels and ages) back doing something – I’m sure there are loads of you just desperate to get back doing something with some other players. More on this as soon as possible.

Finally, hope you, families and friends are all okay and stay safe.


Many Miles of May

We have now completed our Many Miles of May challenge raising money for the association of the NHS Charities. We’ve smashed both of our targets fundraising and distance wise. We have travelled 2433 miles and raised £1117. We will be keeping the just giving page open for the remainder of June for any more donations and the link can be found below. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far.

Thank you to everyone on the team who’s made the effort in this challenging time to get your runs/walks/cycles in whenever you can, you’ve all smashed it!???????? #manymilesofmay

Emma Pooley

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